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Toronto city council votes unanimously in favour of declaring climate emergency

WATCH ABOVE: Toronto’s city council used its first meeting back following the summer break to declare a climate emergency in the city. The move puts pressure on the city to increase efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to reach net neutrality by 2050. Matthew Bingley reports.

Toronto city council voted unanimously in favour of “declaring a climate emergency and accelerating Toronto’s climate action plan.”

The vote happened just before noon on Wednesday, and all 25 city councillors were in favour of the motion.

According to the motion, Toronto would “declare a climate emergency for the purpose of naming, framing and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our ecosystems and our community from climate change.”

READ MORE: Toronto’s climate strike march takes over downtown core

During the council meeting, councillors spoke about the most recent climate change rallies happening across the globe, including the climate strike march that took place on Friday in the downtown core.

“[This motion] recognizes the climate emergency just as I’d say the 100,000 people that marched on Friday were recognizing the climate emergency, asked us to step up and do that,” Coun. Paula Fletcher said during the council meeting.

The motion also outlines endorsing a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target in line with keeping the global average temperature rise below 1.5 C to get Toronto to its goal of reaching net-zero emissions before 2050, among other recommendations.

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WATCH (Sept. 27, 2019): Ontario town on its way to become Canada’s first carbon-neutral community

Ontario town on its way to become Canada’s first carbon-neutral community
Ontario town on its way to become Canada’s first carbon-neutral community

“We are now in an emergency circumstance where everything that we can do, literally everything we can do, has to be considered,” Coun. Gord Perks said.

“Our children, our grandchildren and the generations that follow them don’t bear the burden of our inaction,” Perks said.

City council voted shortly after Mayor John Tory announced the Green Will initiative, which will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in public and private buildings across the city.

“The initiative will set an overall interim reduction target for the first five years, ending in 2025, and successive targets will follow with the ultimate goal of meeting the city’s net-zero goal,” the city said in a press release.

“This updated target will ensure the City of Toronto is moving faster to address climate change and its catastrophic impact on our residents and businesses.”

According to the City of Toronto, partners who have joined the Green Will initiative so far include:

  • Brookfield Asset Management
  • Cadillac Fairview
  • City of Toronto
  • Oxford Properties
  • Ryerson University
  • Toronto District School Board
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board
  • Toronto Community Housing Corporation
  • University Health Network
  • University of Toronto
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“I’m determined to grow the Green Will initiative to include every major building operator in the city, public or private sector,” said Tory. “Our city is joining 800 other municipalities in declaring a climate emergency, and now we are working collaboratively with everyone we can to take decisive action.”

WATCH (Sept. 27, 2019): Thousands take over downtown core for Toronto’s climate strike march

Thousands take over downtown core for Toronto’s climate strike march
Thousands take over downtown core for Toronto’s climate strike march